June 16, 2019
Sickle cell patient cured with first stem cell transplant
LOMA LINDA – (INT) – Doctors at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital recently conducted the institution’s first stem cell transplant in a patient suffering from sickle cell disease. An 11-year-old girl was cured of the inherited blood disease.

The doctors had worked for nearly a year to build a program focused on helping hematology patients, specifically those with hemophilia and sickle cell disease.

The procedure was also the first haploidentical transplant, meaning the stem cells donated — by the patient’s father — were only half a genomic match to the patient’s own stem cells
and were modified by the transplant team to replace the unhealthy blood-forming cells.

Valeria Vargas-Olmedo had lived with sickle cell disease since birth. Her family sought treatment last year after she became incapacitated, unable to continue daily activities such as attend school, get in a car or even walk.

Akshat Jain, MD, director of pediatric hematology-oncology at Children’s Hospital, said he is pleased with the outcome of the transplant and what it means for future patients suffering from sickle cell disease.

“We created a successful program so children and their families suffering from this disease don’t need to look elsewhere for treatment — it’s available to them right here in the Inland Empire,” Dr. Jain said.
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